Europe is well known for its culture, food and history. Often overlooked are the countryside, national parks, mountains, hills and forests which offer an amazing kaleidoscope of great hiking and trekking. And even on a continent as densely populated as Europe, you can still get off the beaten track. Here are our picks for the best off-beat hikes in Europe.
Ireland - Dingle Peninsula Guided Rated Moderate, 3 out of 10 8 days from $2459 Rated as one of the most spectacular areas on Ireland's West Coast, the Dingle Peninsula has a rich history dating back to over 6000 years and an amazing variety of archaeological treasures. Throw in traditional Irish hospitality and cheer, music and village pubs, and you have an area hard to beat. View trip
Portugal - The Fishermen's Trail Self-guided Rated Moderate to Challenging, 5 out of 10
7 days from $1159 To the south of the bustling capital of Lisbon awaits a contrasting landscape of wild beauty, where tourists rarely visit despite endless beaches and authentic fishing villages. This is the Alentejo region, covering a third of Portugal's land mass but just 4% of its population. Following this dramatic coast where wildflowers and butterflies keep company with just a handful of hikers, there is ample opportunity to take a swim or a rest break overlooking the endless ocean. In the evening, enjoy carefully handpicked accommodation where your hosts take pride in the cuisine and culture of the region and where delicious seafood and delectable wine is standard. View trip
Spain - Ancient trails of the Moors
Guided Rated Moderate, 3 out of 10
8 days from $1485 White-washed villages clinging to steep mountainsides, shepherds grazing their flocks, threshing platforms that were used by the Moors and ancient Roman bridges leading over babbling brooks. The Alpujarras are a little-known corner of Spain waiting to be discovered. View trip
France - Best of the Pyrenees Guided Rated Introductory to moderate, 2 out of 10
8 days from $2190 They may be lower than the Alps, but the Pyrenees are nothing less spectacular. Discover beautiful landscapes, traditional villages and a history, culture and language unique to the region. Choose from gentle tours to more involved tours (where you stay two nights at a mountain refuge).
France - across Corsica on the GR20 Guided Rated Challenging to tough, 9 out of 10 15 days from $3795 The GR20 is considered one of the most challenging long distance hiking routes in Europe, crossing the rugged and beautiful interior of the island of Corsica. You'll see granite mountains, alpine lakes, plunging gorges, dramatic cliff-top paths, lush green meadows and even some snowy peaks during the day and experience warm hospitality and delicious mountain fare during the evenings, this is one trip for people ready to challenge themselves. View trip
Italy - Island Hopping in the Bay of Naples
Rated Leisurely to Moderate, 2 out of 10
8 days from $1995
Not far off-shore from the Amalfi Coast, Ischia and Capri have long been the summer playground of the rich and famous. However, away from the yachts, glamorous piazzas and exclusive boutiques, the stunning natural landscape of these islands also offer breath-taking walking opportunities with their great variety of quiet coastal trails, secluded sea coves and pastel-coloured villages. We also visit the island of Procida - one of Italy’s best kept-secrets - and end the tour in the vibrant Naples.
Italy - Dolomites Via Ferrate Guided Rated Moderate to challenging, 5 out of 10 7 days from $1849 The breathtaking peaks of the Dolomites have to been seen to be believed. Towering above alpine meadows, they stand out as sentinels guarding an ancient empire. During WW1 the mountain range was the front line between one such empire, the Austro-Hungarian, and Italy. Iron ladders were fastened to cliffs to allow soldiers to move between defensive posts. These ladders and walkways have now been turned in to recreational facilities, allowing hikers great access to otherwise inaccessible corners of this spectacular mountain range. View trip
Italy - Food lover's Francigena way Guided Rated Moderate, 3 out of 10 14 days from $5590 Following the southern section of an ancient pilgrimage trail between Canterbury and Rome, this culinary walking trip makes travelling to Italy a dream come true. Incredible food, amazing cities, towns and villages, beautiful landscapes, a rich history and fantastic art treasures are all ingredients of this wonderful walk through the Italian hills. View trip
Italy & Switzerland - Grand Combin Traverse Guided Rated Moderate to challenging, 5 out of 10 7 days from $1397 A great quieter alternative to the trails around Mont Blanc, the Grand Combin Traverse offers beautiful scenery or snowy peaks where glaciers tumble down to verdant lowlands. A highlight is staying at the centuries-old travellers hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass, a unique piece of European history. View trip
Bulgaria - on foot Guided Rated Moderate to challenging, 5 out of 10 8 days from $959 With peaks reaching nearly 3000 metres, Bulgaria offers a stunning variety of hidden villages brimming with traditional culture, alpine meadows, glacial lakes, rare vegetation and a unique fauna. This is an off-beat walking trip in a land rich in history and traditions. View trip
Romania - Monasteries and Villages Guided Rated Moderate, 3 out of 10 9 days from $1449 Stunningly beautiful mountains, a rich local culture that has changed little over the centuries, ancient villages and monasteries and pristine forests brimming with wildlife - these are the Transylvanian Alps, ready to be discovered on foot. View trip
Walking in North Cyprus
Rated Leisurely to Moderate, 2 out of 10
8 days from $1235
North Cyprus remains a hidden gem of the Mediterranean, and, thanks to the abundance of archaeological remains from many civilisations that inhabited the island over the centuries, it is considered the most beautiful and historically interesting part of the island. With superb walking through unspoiled areas teeming with flowers and wildlife, and the relaxed local Turkish Cypriot culture, this is a walking and sightseeing tour not to be missed. View trip